In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
Another post in the improving your learning from A to Z series.
If you’re not reading from a book every day, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful ways to learn and connect the dots. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be reading each day, it’s that important. Reading a book is like fertilizer to your mind.
- Don’t like or find it difficult to read? Listen to audio books (this can be as effective as reading a book).
- Bored by books? You’re not reading the right book for you.
- Don’t have the time? Begin with 10 minutes a day. Reading may even give you time back.
Reading is Good For You
If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you’re still reading this post, you must believe that reading has some benefit. Why else would you be reading this? Here are a few resources on the benefits of reading.
- Anne Cunningham found that reading makes us smarter.
- John Coleman wrote a good article summarizing the many benefits of reading including studies that have shown that reading makes you smarter through “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.“
- Reading improves your thinking skills and provides other benefits outside of learning like like reducing stress and better writing,
The best place to see the benefits of reading is to begin reading a book. Pick a book on a topic you find interesting or know nothing about. Begin reading this book for 10 minutes a day. Be patient and curious, the benefits will come to you.
How to Read a Book
Here are a few resources to help improve your reading:
- How to Read Well by Farnam Street
- How to digest books above your level by Ryan Holiday
- How to Read a Business Book by Seth Godin
Books to Read
One of the easiest ways to begin finding books is to see what others are reading. Here are some examples:
- Bill Gates has an annual list plus a list of books on his book shelf
- Ben Casnocha’s list
- Joel Gascoigne’s list of 50 books that transformed his life
- Ryan Holiday has a newsletter with recommended books
- Jay Cross’s list
- 14 Thought Leaders Share Their Bookshelves
- FavBooks lists book recommendations from influential people
There are sites that can help you find books, here are a few examples:
- Amazon – there are many ways to find good books here (e.g., best seller, award winning, similar to this book, etc)
- What Should I Read Next – type a book or author you enjoy and this site recommends a list of similar books for you
- Goodreads -contains recommendations from a large community
Another good way to find books is through sites that summarize and recommend books. Here are my 3 favorite sites:
If You Only Read Non-Fiction, Try Fiction
If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want your child to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. Albert Einstein
Reading novels helps you embrace ambiguity, says research from three University of Toronto scholars.
“The thinking a person engages in while reading fiction does not necessarily lead him or her to a decision,” they note. This, they observe, decreases the reader’s need to come to a definitive conclusion.
Annie Murphy Paul describes recent research showing that stories stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life. One of the statement I found fascinating was from Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto.
He suggests that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”
Does listening to book provide the same benefit as reading? Unless it’s a complicated or highly detailed book, it does.
University of Virginia psychology professor Dan Willingham provides an explanation of how they are similar:
“The way this is usually interpreted is that once you are good at decoding letter into sounds, which most of us are by the 5th or 6th grade, the comprehension is the same whether it’s spoken or written.”
So, if you feel like you’re cheating and not really “reading” when listening to a book, listen up! Listening to books if one the ways I am able to read more. Some of this is also personal preference. When I want to take lots of notes and continually refer to a book, I usually read rather than listen.
Here are some audio book resources:
Begin Reading Today
Like anything you want to do that you never find the time, you need to make it a priority. It doesn’t mean you have to rearrange your life to make a change. Don’t over think it, just start.
- Select a book
- Make time to read or listen each day (start with 10 minutes a day)
- Keep an open mind, be curious and patient. You will realize many benefits.